If there's one thing the horse industry needs, its new blood to fuel the sport. The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders' Association (TOBA) works each year to accomplish just that through its new owner seminars and breeding clinics, the most recent of which took place at Robert N. Clay's Three Chimneys Farm near Midway, Ky., May 29. The three-day clinic will also visit Craig Bandoroff's Denali Stud near Paris, Ky., to learn about conformation and pedigrees.
Dozens of eager faces were intent upon the Three Chimneys employees as they orientated the newcomers to the business by walking them through the steps of the breeding process from start to finish.
"The neat thing about the horse business and the stallion business is that nobody knows where the next great stallion is going to come from, so we all have a chance," said Case Clay, whose father, Robert, founded Three Chimneys in 1972. "It's a lot like a sports franchise ... you try and fill your barn with four or five rookies, one or two which will hopefully hit big; your veterans, which are your bread and butter; and your utility players. We have all those types of stallions."
Anne Peters, Three Chimneys' seasons and matings advisor, explained how Dynaformer, sire of 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro, serves well in his role as one of the farm's veteran sires. He is also one of the most expensive stallions on the market. Initially standing for $5,000, he now commands a fee of $150,000.
"He's on the far end of the spectrum in terms of size," Peters said of the strapping son of Roberto, who is also the most aggressive stallion at Three Chimneys and is required to wear a leather muzzle during breeding sessions. "He's got incredible bone and is just a big, strong horse."
Peters explained that Dynaformer crosses best with medium-sized mares that need a little more size and bone, as well as stamina and soundness.
After being introduced to the farm's other stallions and taught the basics of stallion contracts, clinic participants were walked through the process of a mare being prepared for breeding, and they were able to view several mating sessions.
Atlanta resident John Taylor, who recently became a TOBA member, was at the breeding clinic to learn more about his new role in the Thoroughbred world.
"We've had horses for years, and we just love them, and this is just something I've been wanting to do--it's a passion," said Taylor, who recently acquired two Thoroughbred broodmares, one of which has a 10-week-old foal named Edmund's Boy (by Distorted Humor). He keeps his new stock at M&M Farm, just south of Atlanta.
Taylor, whose goal is to someday campaign his horses at Keeneland, works full time in the propane gas business. "You've got to dream big and wish big," he said. "I love the animal. Winston Churchill once said, 'There's something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.' This is a business, and you have to realize that and treat it like a business, but also have fun too."
Beth Daly traveled to attend the clinic from her home base in Windsor, Ontario. She became a fan of horse racing after watching Street Sense capture the Kentucky Derby in 2007, shortly after which she entered a partnership group with bloodstock agent Mike McMahon. Daly now has an interest in three Thoroughbreds in training: Dutch Striker, Dynamic Force, and Katskill Bay, and spends her vacations traveling around the country with her husband to watch them race.
"I became a fan around three years ago, and a part owner last year," said Daly, a professor at the University of Windsor. "We have long-range plans to buy a farm down here and get our own horses. (Horse ownership) is fun ... even though I only own the nose. But all they have to do is stick that nose out and we win."
(This article first appeared on Bloodhorse.com.)
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